Chief: ‘We never dreamed someone would take airplanes and crash them into buildings’


Veterans and residents listen as people take turns sharing what Sept. 11 means to them.


Fire chief Bob Hanmer talks about the moment the planes crashed into the World Trade Center.


Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune

Douglas Taylor, past commander of the American Legion Fifth District, shows Oberlin veterans a 9/11 pin he was given by a friend. A picnic was held Friday on Hamilton Street to observe the 14th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the U.S.


Residents take turns getting food and drinks.


William Powell, second vice commander of American Legion Post 656, and Jim Crockett of Amherst pose together.


Donald Fugitt, commander of Chapter 473 Miltary Order of the Purple Heart in Elyria, speaks.


Willie Miller cooks hamburgers for his fellow veterans and other community members.


John Cannon, commander of American Legion Post 656 in Oberlin, reminds everyone to be thankful for the people who risks their lives.


Veterans and residents listen as people take turns sharing what Sept. 11 means to them.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2015/09/web1_IMG_7359.jpgVeterans and residents listen as people take turns sharing what Sept. 11 means to them.

Fire chief Bob Hanmer talks about the moment the planes crashed into the World Trade Center.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2015/09/web1_IMG_7364.jpgFire chief Bob Hanmer talks about the moment the planes crashed into the World Trade Center.

Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune

Douglas Taylor, past commander of the American Legion Fifth District, shows Oberlin veterans a 9/11 pin he was given by a friend. A picnic was held Friday on Hamilton Street to observe the 14th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the U.S.

http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2015/09/web1_IMG_7386.jpg

Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune

Douglas Taylor, past commander of the American Legion Fifth District, shows Oberlin veterans a 9/11 pin he was given by a friend. A picnic was held Friday on Hamilton Street to observe the 14th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the U.S.

Residents take turns getting food and drinks.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2015/09/web1_IMG_7394.jpgResidents take turns getting food and drinks.

William Powell, second vice commander of American Legion Post 656, and Jim Crockett of Amherst pose together.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2015/09/web1_IMG_7397.jpgWilliam Powell, second vice commander of American Legion Post 656, and Jim Crockett of Amherst pose together.

Donald Fugitt, commander of Chapter 473 Miltary Order of the Purple Heart in Elyria, speaks.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2015/09/web1_IMG_7404.jpgDonald Fugitt, commander of Chapter 473 Miltary Order of the Purple Heart in Elyria, speaks.

Willie Miller cooks hamburgers for his fellow veterans and other community members.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2015/09/web1_IMG_7409.jpgWillie Miller cooks hamburgers for his fellow veterans and other community members.

John Cannon, commander of American Legion Post 656 in Oberlin, reminds everyone to be thankful for the people who risks their lives.
http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/44/2015/09/web1_John.jpgJohn Cannon, commander of American Legion Post 656 in Oberlin, reminds everyone to be thankful for the people who risks their lives.

The wounds inflicted 14 years ago by terrorists on Sept. 11, 2001, still hurt.

Veterans and family members gathered Friday in Oberlin to remember the 2,977 lives lost. Among those killed in the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., were 343 firefighters, 72 law enforcement officers, and 55 military personnel.

“We never dreamed someone would take airplanes and crash them into buildings,” said Oberlin fire chief Bob Hanmer. “To us, that’s our Pearl Harbor.”

He said firefighters were trained to handle mass casualties but not on that magnitude.

The chief remembers the fire department getting a call from the Lorain County Emergency Management Agency about a possible plane flying over Oberlin, which was Flight 93.

The plane crashed just outside of Shanksville, Pa., as passengers attempted to overthrow hijackers bound for the Capitol on a suicide mission.

John Cannon, commander of American Legion Post 656 in Oberlin, said everyone needs to be thankful for those people who risked their lives in the aftermath of the attacks.

Legion finance officer Bob Jones said he was concerned something would happen to the Federal Aviation Administration in Oberlin on Rt. 511 and how local officers would respond.

“We are sorry for the lives lost and thank God for the ones saved,” said William Powell, second vice commander at Post 656.

Samuel Felton Jr., one of the county’s most celebrated veterans and recipient of the Purple Heart, said it was not only an attack on America but our value system.

“I was transfixed,” he said of seeing the images of planes crashing into the World Trade Center towers. “No matter what, you can’t keep Americans down, which makes us great.”

After 9/11, the chief remembers how the nation came together. Residents constantly thanked him and fellow firefighters for their work.

“It was the greatest pride I’ve ever seen in this country after 9/11 with everyone being so proud and waving their flags,” Hanmer said.

Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or on Twitter @ValUrbanik.

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